Hello again! For those of you who are looking forward to my next writing article, don’t worry! I’ll have one up soon. In the meantime, I’d like to talk about asexuality some more.
There were a lot of factors that led to me not realizing my asexuality right away. There’s a lot of things that I still don’t know about how I’m going to navigate relationships and the questions of my family and friends. There’s a lot of people who are in and were in my life that wouldn’t believe I’m asexual, even if I told them so.
But, if I had to point to the single biggest factor it would have definitely been my ideas about sex.
Namely, that I thought sex was an all-or-nothing thing in the asexual world. ‘Asexuals can have sex!’ people said, ‘But some of them don’t!’
…Well, where did that leave me?
I have a complicated history with sex. Complicated enough that my entire identity is often dismissed because of it, both online and in real life. I’m not a lesbian because I’ve dated men. I’m not non-binary because I’ve had a kid and don’t look a certain way. I’m not asexual because once upon a time I was called a slut. I was sexually abused and assaulted but I’m a liar and it happened so long ago.
For a long time, I honestly thought I was a rape magnet. As a kid, I was molested and abused sexually. When I was older, it kept happening. It just didn’t occur to me that this situation or that situation was dangerous when it was. All the while, my attackers told me that I must secretly want it, that I wouldn’t have put myself in that situation if I didn’t. I began to wonder if they were right– if I was a horrible person who deserved the pain. Soon, sex started to become something I’d use to punish myself with, even when it was consensual.
When I finally discovered asexuality, it provided an explanation for those experiences. It wasn’t that I was inherently flawed and useless, it was that I had no basis for comparison, no radar for ‘this is a sexually dangerous situation’. In a kinder, less sexually charged world, I finally realized, this wouldn’t have happened.
So, I was stuck in a conundrum. Yes, I could have sex, but even with consent it would be something emotionally damaging and harmful. And yes, there were times when I felt repulsed by sex, but not always.
Then I discovered the term ‘sex-indifferent’. Immediately, I knew that that was the word I’d been looking for. At the base, before the complications, I was indifferent to sex! I just didn’t care. But, with the complications, I knew that no sexual experience would be a healthy one for me.
Curious, I went to some ace spaces to investigate how other sex-indifferent people dealt with the subject. I was…disappointed.
Most mentions of sex-indifferent aces were in relation to their relationships with sexual people. And nearly all of the advice said that the sex-indifferent asexual was being selfish for not having sex if they could have sex. Oh, they said it in a nice way, don’t get me wrong, but the gist of it was that the partner’s happiness came before the asexual person’s happiness when it came to sex because a sex-indifferent person doesn’t care whether or not they have sex.
And that’s not right.
Sex-indifferent people are NOT necessarily sex-positive people. Likewise, sex-indifferent people are not necessarily sex-adverse. They are their own category with their own reasons for being the way they are.
Personally, even though I’m sex-indifferent, I won’t be having sex with any of the people in my future relationships because that isn’t a healthy mental choice for me as a person, despite having a libido and enjoying some kinds of sex.
Yes, that decision is influenced by my past, however, that isn’t the only factor or even the most important one. Honestly, I had some pretty horrible mentalities about myself and sex back then. Sex was a tool for self-harm in my mind, just as alcohol and illegal drugs can be tools for self-harm to other people. Telling myself that I don’t need something that potentially dangerous in my life isn’t selfish…it’s self-preservation and self-respect.
And while my decision may be more understandable, given the information about my experiences, that doesn’t make it any more valid than someone who is sex-indifferent and just doesn’t want to have sex.
Because any reason is a valid reason when it comes to having, or not having, sex. Assuming that just because someone can have sex means that they should is just as potentially harmful to sex-indifferent people as assuming that they would never want sex in the first place.
For another article on this subject, check out Sara K.’s blog post here!